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Baghdad Repeats Claims of Spying

'We know they are playing an intelligence role,' vice president says of U.N. weapons teams.

January 13, 2003|From Reuters

BAGHDAD — U.N. inspectors examined at least eight sites in their search for banned weapons Sunday as Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan repeated Iraqi accusations that inspectors are spying.

"We know they are playing an intelligence role. The way they are conducting their inspections and the sites they are visiting have nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction," he told the government newspaper Al Jumhuriyah. "But we are cooperating with inspection teams ... to expose the lies of those who have bad intentions."

An advisor to President Saddam Hussein also criticized the inspectors, who are looking for signs of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programs.

"They are asking questions which are irrelevant to weapons of mass destruction and to their mandate. For example, they visited an air base and asked about the routes leading to and out of it," Gen. Amir Saadi said.

Hussein said last week that the inspectors were carrying out "intelligence" work.

In a CNN interview today, Mark Gwozdecky of the International Atomic Energy Agency said chief inspectors said last spring that their work could take about a year and that the U.N. Security Council would give them the time they need.

A biological team went to three sites in and around the capital Sunday, while a chemical team headed to a plastic industries company on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said.

One of the sites visited was a college of pharmacy in Baghdad.

"They asked about research conducted, ... about the names of heads of the departments and the number" of students, said dean Nowfal Mashhadani.

A missile team headed to Basra. Another went to two sites belonging to the Iraqi Military Industrialization Commission in Fallouja, 40 miles west of Baghdad. Another team inspected the commission's Jaber bin Haiyan facility north of Mosul.

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